What Does Christmas Mean?

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This blog was first posted December 31, 2017.   The next 2 weeks as the holidays and my life transitions, I will be sharing some of my favorite Christmas time post.  I hope you will enjoy these past post over the holiday and the new year – 2019 will bring a new life and new post of God’s Blessings.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

What do we find in Christmas?  I find family and traditions in Christmas, but if we focus deeper what will we really find in the meaning of Christmas. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11.  Christ is found in Christmas but the message from Christmas is even deeper.

As we gather with family during the holidays, sometimes both the worst and best comes out in us.  Christmas is reminder to me to live Ephesians 6:1-4, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  ‘Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  As we leave our parents and have children of our own it is important to remember this verse.  But even more important sometimes as parents you have to let your children find their way back to Christ and to the respect of the verse above.  I know I have to continue to bring myself back to this verse and remember the promise that God is giving me by honoring my parents.  This season is when Christ can turn me back toward family and the importance they have always played in my life.  Christians must pass down these seeds which are planted with our children and nurtured so they are called back to their roots as adults.  I praise God everyday and throughout the Christmas season for giving me Christians parents who planted these seeds.  I know that many do not have this past, so what do they find in Christmas?  – hold that thought.  Christmas and its meaning is pasted down to our children just as scripture states in 2 Timothy 1:5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”  Many families and I pray that my family will continue to pass the seeds of Christ which is our blessing from God.  Just as many families are generations old there are “new” families beginning the tradition of passing the Faith of Christ and the meaning of Christmas.  Passing Faith from parents to children is a tradition that represents the birth, life, and example of Christ that we find in Christmas.

Christmas and Christ birth is a deep spiritual tradition in many Christian families.  As we lose some and create new ones the traditions surrounding Christ are the ones that matter.  2 Thessalonians 2:15 reminds us to stand firm in our faith and teachings, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”  Christ is our reminder to stand as he did in our faith and his teachings for these matter most for our children.  2 Peter 1:19 reads, “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”  Christ is our lamp of light in this world and Christmas is the reminder to us to shine his light.  How will you shine his light for others in 2017.  Shining Christ light throughout the year reminds us of the great gift and sacrifice Christ made for us, so we must stand firm in the Gospel of Christ.  Christ last commission to his disciples and to us in Matthew reads, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Again we are called by Christ to stand firm, teach, and serve.  Paul reminds the Corinthians as well in 1 Corinthians 11:2, “Now I commend you because remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”  

Christ in Christmas is our reminder of why Christ came to man and that message is found in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Christ came to serve and therefore our reminder at Christmas should be toward service throughout the year.  Remember that question above, Could we be the reason that others around us find Christ in Christmas.  There is so much competition this time of year, but nothing that provides the hope that Christ does for those who are lost.  Christmas time can create so many distractions that our eyes can be removed from Christ but the Old Testament reminds us in 1 Samuel 12:24 to “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things he has done for you.”  and David’s charge to Solomon in 1 Chronicles 12:9 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought.”  This is a time to reflect on what God is finding in your heart this Christmas Season.  As we all reflect this season, I am reminded also in scripture of how I should be a servant of the Lord (Christ).   We will all be called to serve in different ways for Christ.  I know what he calling me to serve, Do you?  Romans 12:11 says, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”  We must be fervent in our service so that the sparkle of Christmas can cover the heartache of Christ throughout the year.  Man broke his heart and man will break ours but our challenge this season is live by his example to love and serve others so that Christmas shines through us throughout the new year.

Closing Verse: “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 23:11

Challenge: Where is Christ urging you to serve for him this coming year?  How did Christ open your eyes this Christmas Season?  Search scripture for your answers.   

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The Empty Manger

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This blog was first posted December 22, 2017.   Over the next 3 weeks as the holidays and my life transitions, I will be sharing some of my favorite Christmas time post.  I hope you will enjoy these past post over the holiday and the new year – 2019 will bring a new life and new post of God’s Blessings.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

The Empty Manger

As I look down into the manger this Christmas season, I want to remember the simple birth of my Savior.  The manger was empty so that Jesus could fill it with His glory so many years ago.  “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”  Luke 2:7  As I remember that empty manager, I see my life as the manager and I pray that my advocate, Jesus, will fill my life simply, yet fully as He filled the manger. This simple manger when filled with Christ became a beacon that called many to seek him so long ago just as we continue to seek him today.  His simple beginnings remind me that He has walked my path and knows my struggle.  As I struggle, I pray that God will fill the manger of my life, and He will take root in my heart.

Heart of the Manger

Prior to Christ’s birth the manger was empty and man struggled with his sin and evil heart.  God knew that only the sacrifice of His Son would bring salvation to His people. How can we plant the seed of Christmas in our hearts and weed the evil from within?  During this Christmas season, I hope that we all are reminded that we need Christ in our hearts.  My desire is not for the heart of Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” but for the heart that God creates in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”  Christ in my heart is a promised blessing from Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  I pray that blessing for all this Christmas season.  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7.

Seeking the Manager

The first Christmas when Christ was born the heavens rejoiced and many sought to find the manger and worship this Miracle Baby.  The shepherds were in the fields with their flock that night so long ago when the heavens opened and the angels brought the great news to them. “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” Luke 2:15-16.

The wise men in Matthew 2:2  saw the star (link), “For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” They prepared for the journey to worship the Child in the manager.  “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”  Matthew 2: 9-10.  Following the star the wise men found the child, “and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11.

Gift of the Manger

I often ponder the wise men and their travels to see the Christ child.  I wonder about the gifts they brought.  I have researched and studied the meaning of each, but I guess I have often been drawn to why they brought three.  What does this mean?  The number three can be found throughout scripture, but my curiosity was more interested in why the wisemen brought only three gifts and did these gifts somehow symbolize the gifts Christ’s birth brought to man.  As I searched and read scripture, I found these verses in 1 John 5:6-8 that explain the three gifts Christ birth brought, “This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.” Christ did not come by water only into our lives which is the outward symbol of cleansing, but by blood which is his sacrifice so that His people might be saved.  Christ sacrifice brought the Spirit which is the inward symbol of our cleansing.  These gifts created the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”, and John 15:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

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Closing Verse: Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a son, and you shall his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Challenge:  Fill the Manger of your heart this Christmas with Christ.

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My Linus Blanket

This blog was first posted January 26, 2018.   Over the next 4 weeks as the holidays and my life transitions, I will be sharing some of my favorite Christmas time post.  I hope you will enjoy these past post over the holiday and the new year – 2019 will bring a new life and new post of God’s Blessings.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

Conversation with Friends

Recently, while hanging out with friends and having some life conversations that lead to one discussion about what is one thing that could make our life better right now, and second what are the security blankets that keep us from really reaching for our dreams and making our life better.  While eating wings, watching some football and having this discussion my friend turned and said this may be your next post… and so here I am exploring the path of God’s plan for me and how I hold onto my security blanket that can hinder God’s plan for my life.  My challenge to you as you continue to read is to think about what your security blanket is? What hinders you from living out God’s plan for your life.

Security Blankets 

Everyone remembers Linus in the Charlie Brown comic series.  He carries his blanket without fail everywhere he goes.  He doesn’t believe that he can do anything without the blanket.  Many times it appears the blanket gets in the way of what Linus wants to do but without fail he will only continue on within the safety of his blanket in tow.  When this question was asked in the conversation, I knew my security blanket was the safety of my hometown, where I have always lived,  and my career.   Over the years I have enjoyed lots of adventures in my life, but my desire to live a daily adventure, although great, is hindered by the safety of home.  I need to make my home within the Lord like Psalm 16:8 reads, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”

Drop the Blanket

Over the Christmas holidays, I read an article about the only time Linus drops his security blanket is in A Charlie Brown Christmas when he begins to tell the Christmas Story and the real meaning of Christmas with these words, ‘And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”, Luke 2:10-11.  Linus found God’s security in his word – “Fear Not” and he no longer needed to hold the blanket.  I hear God’s word calling me to “Fear Not” and take the steps to release my security blanket and “Live Life”.  “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14.  Go and find the beauty of his world, and explore the handiwork of his hands.  “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17.  Go and watch the dolphins jump and the sun set over the water.  Go and listen to the waves crash and smell the sand and salt.  Go and experience the simple and slower life that I hear him calling me towards.  I will need to seek God’s strength to drop the blanket.  The strength found in 1 Chronicles 16:11, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”

Fear Not

I must walk in the words that Linus spoke when he dropped his blanket, “Fear Not, and know that God is with me.  As I open my eyes to my security blanket and seek the strength of the Lord to fulfill my life and allow me to let go and enjoy!   Psalm 34:4 encourages me to seek the Lord, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”  I have to unwrap myself from my blanket in order to feel the freedom that Christ can provide for my future.  I seek the freedom of John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Closing Verse: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Challenge:  Find your blanket and let It go.

Charlie Brown pictures are courtesy of pixabay.com

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Christmas Traditions

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This blog was first posted on December 8, 2017.   Over the next 5 weeks as the holidays and my life transitions, I will be sharing some of my favorite Christmas time post.  I hope you will enjoy these past post over the holiday and the new year – 2019 will bring a new life and new post of God’s Blessings.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

Christmas Season

Christmas music is playing now everywhere I go and the lights are shining bright.  The season is here.  I want to enjoy more and stress less as Christmas day approaches.  I want to remember why we celebrate this season.  I always find myself this time of year thinking about the past. Thinking about Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my girls.  The fun, the laughs, the surprises, and most importantly the family traditions we have created together and continue to create over the years.  I believe that traditions are important for families and can be past down to the next generation.  Paul reminds me of the importance of traditions in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”

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Family Traditions

My family has a few old traditions like the mouse calendar countdown to Christmas.  Our girls would almost fight to get to move the mouse each day.  They loved for the one whose turn it was to forget, so later in the day the mouse would secretly be moved. This simple purchase so many years ago has brought so much joy to our family.  Even now my husband takes pictures of Harley moving the mouse and sends it our now grown daughters.  It is a special memory and tradition in our home, and one I hope continues in the homes of our daughters one day with their children.

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Jesus Birthday Cake

Another great tradition for our family is baking Jesus’s Birthday Cake and singing Happy Birthday to him on Christmas Day.  Today my girls bake the cake and decorate the cake together instead of me, but I enjoy watching them back home together in the kitchen having fun carrying on our family tradtion.  We still gather round the cake on Christmas afternoon and sing and eat his birthday cake!  This is definitely one of my favorite Christmas memories and traditions!  “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

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Even the Cake Decorations are important to our family.

Sharing Traditions

As an educator, I could not help but wonder about the traditions of my students, so I asked them to share favorite Christmas traditions with me on a Chalkboard in the school library.  It is special to hear them talk about the little things their families do together that are important to them.  Here are a few from this years board:

  1. Enchiladas for Breakfast on Christmas morning.  Why?  Her family is from Guatemala and this is just something her grandmother has always done.
  2. Crab Legs for Christmas Eve.  This student was super excited to share how much the night means getting to eat the crab legs!
  3. Lights.  One student just shared how much she enjoys lights and lots of lights.  She and I have that in common.
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These are just a few shared on the board and in discussions with my students.

Over the years I have heard some wonderful traditions that families share.  Some I wish I had even thought of.  Some that brought a great laugh but was still so important to the student.

  1.  One tradition that I wish I had known and started is only receiving three gifts for Christmas.  “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11
  2. Several years ago a student shared that on Christmas Eve they had to eat their meal with a different utensil from the kitchen.  This was a long family tradition and brought lots of laughter around the table.  Who knew what you would get?  How do you eat with a whisk?

The Gift of Jesus

Traditions are important in families and even school communities.  God shows us how to celebrate him Everywhere.  This is a like a tradition.  Praise the Lord in all that we do as Psalm 150:1-6 exclaims, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!…”

During this  Christmas season with traditions being shared and even created remembering the reason we have this season is the most important.  God loved us so much that he gave us the greatest gift of all.  He gave us His Son.  He gave us Life.  ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16.

Closing Verse: “Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.”  1 Corinthians 11:2

Challenge: During this Christmas Season full of traditions don’t forget God’s traditions and gifts in your life.